written by Rainbow Rowell, published by Orion Books
genre young adult / novel, 329 pages
I’d never heard of Rainbow Rowell (yes, her real name) before, but immediately knew I would love this novel just by seeing its cover. It turns out to be one of my all time favourite love stories!
I won’t spoil the fun of reading this book, by giving away too many details. All that’s there to say is that I absolutely loved this beautiful and bittersweet lovestory and got completely wrapped up in it.
The story is set in Omaha, Nebraska in 1986. Over the course of one school year we get to know Eleanor and Park, both sixteen years old, with each their own set of issues, insecurities and feelings of not fitting in. But despite all the tragic events going on around them, they’re brought together by their shared love for comic books and music.
As mentioned before I absolutely adored this book and guess that the ending might be part of this appreciation. The postcard with “three words on it” leaves so many options open for an ending or sequel. It’s up to us, our interpretation and imagination, to decide what those last three words are and how the story continues.
This might make some readers feel disappointed or even frustrated, but to me it was the perfect ending. Having been a part of Eleanor & Park’s life, at the end of the book it’s time to let go, to let them pick up their lives and live it. Whether it’ll be happily ever after, struggling or something in between. In my mind both Eleanor and Park do live on, they’re 17 years old now and it’s only the beginning!
Even though I graduated high school many years ago, I had a great time reading this book. I liked how the story was ornated with many 80’s links but at the same time felt like it could have taken place today. If you, like me, are a hopeless romantic, have an appreciation for good music and comics and a weakness for the unpopular kids, this is a book you shouldn’t miss. Eleanor and Park became a part of me while reading the book and stayed in my mind many weeks afterwards.
written by Katarina Bivald, published by Boekerij
genre fiction / novel, 399 pages
When stumbling across the dutch translation of the ‘The readers of Broken Wheel recommend’, the book cover was reason enough for me to start reading right away. Even though people always say you should’t judge a book by its cover, this one (just like the english versions you can see below) was a perfect representation of the story and its atmosphere; a sweet and funny story about a tiny American town, books, love and friendship. Just like I expected by judging the cover, I fell in love with the readers of Broken Wheel at once!
When Sara, a young Swedish woman who just lost her bookselling job, arrives in Broken Wheel (Iowa, USA) to visit her old and fellow book loving pen pal Amy, it turns out to be the day of Amy’s funeral. Being Amy’s guest, the residents of Broken Wheel decide Sara has to stay and welcome her as their guest.
Finding it hard to just relax and enjoy Broken Wheel’s hospitality, Sara soon finds a way to contribute to everyone’s wellbeing. After discovering Amy’s book collection she decides that opening a book shop will be the perfect way to honor Amy and to give something back to the generous people of the town. With everybody helping her to make the bookshop a success, the project brings the whole community back together.
Sara’s enthusiasm and conviction that there is a book for everyone, helps them to open up their hearts for books, for each other and for themselves. Broken Wheel and Sara turn out to be a match made in heaven.
This book turns out to be one of the loveliest feel good books I’ve read in a long time. The story is both sweet and funny and despite the predictable ending, it never gets boring or lengthy in any way. I loved how we get to know more about Amy and her villagers through Amy’s letters to Sara and how the characters evolve during the book. It’s simply impossible not to fall in love with this town, just like Sara did. On top of that, the many references from famous books helped reminding me how much I love reading books!
written by Griet op de Beeck, published by Prometheus
genre psychological novel, 272 pages
Griet op de Beeck is a very famous Belgian writer. Her novel ‘Kom hier dat ik u kus’ (So I may kiss you) was a major success and also her debut novel ‘Vele hemels boven de zevende’ (Beyond cloud nine) was very well received. Hearing so many positive responses made me curious for her work and I decided to start with her debut.
The main character of the story is Eva, a 36-year-old strong, single, loyal and loving woman. The people surrounding Eva are mostly her family, friends and some clients from work.
Eva’s older sister Elsie is trying to escape her not-so-happy marriage by starting an affair with Casper, a friend of Eva whom she meets at the opening of his exhibition. Elsies daughter Lou is, just like Eva, very good at observing people and situations. Which makes her a sensitive and shy girl and gives her trouble making friends at high school. Jos, Eva’s father, is having a hard time hiding his alcohol addiction and keeping a secret he’s been living with for many years.
Five very different characters. All looking for love and happiness but struggling with the fear of change, fear of hurting others and fear of hurting themselves. The question is; will they have the guts to follow their hearts and make the jump. Or will they continue living their lives the way they always have.
The theme and the characters of this story are very real and recognizable; everybody knows how it feels to struggle with these questions. The unexpected ending of the story was in a way very sad but also very courageous and exactly what the story needed.
This is one of those books that you read within just a couple of hours but that will stay with you for a much longer time!
“How to actually live life, I don’t really have a clue, but I’m pretty good at pretending that I do.” – Eva